Mercury toxicity is highly correlated with autistic spectrum disorders. - GreenMedInfo Summary
A prospective study of mercury toxicity biomarkers in autistic spectrum disorders.
J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2007 Oct;70(20):1723-30. PMID: 17885929
Porphyrins are derivatives formed in the heme synthesis pathway and porphyrins afford a measure of xenobiotic exposure. The steps in the heme pathway most vulnerable to heavy metal inhibition are uroporphyrin decarboxylase (UROD) and coproporphyrinogen oxidase (CPOX) reactions. Mercury toxicity was associated with elevations in urinary coproporphyrin (cP), pentacarboxyporphyrin (5cxP), and precoproporphyrin (prcP) (also known as keto-isocoproporphyrin) levels. Two cohorts of autistic patients in the United States and France had urine porphyrin levels associated with mercury toxicity. A prospective study of urinary porphyrin testing at LabCorp (United States) and the Laboratoire Philippe Auguste (France) involving 71 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients, neurotypical sibling controls, and general population controls was undertaken. ASD patients had significant elevations in urinary levels of cP, 5cxP, and prcP relative to controls, and>50% of ASD patients had urinary cP levels more than 2 standard deviations above the mean values for neurotypical sibling controls. Significant reductions in urinary 5cxP and cP levels were observed in ASD patients following chelation. A significant correlation was found between urinary porphyrins measured at LabCorp and those measured at the Laboratoire Philippe Auguste on individual ASD patients. The established developmental neurotoxicity attributed to mercury and biochemical/genomic evidence for mercury susceptibility/toxicity in ASDs indicates a causal role for mercury. Urinary porphyrin testing is clinically available, relatively inexpensive, and noninvasive. Porphyrins need to be routinely measured in ASDs to establish if mercury toxicity is a causative factor and to evaluate the effectiveness of chelation therapy.